Indonesia has acknowledged that one of its patrol boats fired at two Taiwanese fishing vessels earlier this week as the Taiwanese craft docked at Singapore's Jurong Fishery Port early yesterday morning.
The tuna longliners, Sheng Te Tsai and Lien I Hsing No. 116, were passing through the Strait of Malacca en route to Singapore early on Monday when they were fired at.
All 25 men on board the two vessels - two Taiwanese captains and 23 Indonesian crew members - escaped unharmed, though one of the vessels had multiple bullet holes.
Yesterday, Satgas 115, an Indonesian government taskforce against illegal fishing, said in a statement that its patrol boat had fired at the Taiwanese vessels but said this was "in self-defence" when the Taiwanese vessels tried to ram it.
The vessels were caught poaching in Indonesian waters off Lhokseumawe in Aceh, said Mr Fred Lonan, a Satgas 115 official, adding that this area is within Indonesia's exclusive economic zone.
"All actions by the (Hiu 04 patrol boat) were in accordance with protocol and in line with existing procedures of law enforcement within Indonesia's fisheries area," he said.
Taipei had earlier condemned the violence on the high seas.
Mr Lee Chang-hsi, owner of the Sheng Te Tsai, yesterday demanded that Indonesia apologise, compensate for the damage and punish whoever fired the shots.
Mr Lin Nan-yang, 34, captain of the Sheng Te Tsai, told The Straits Times: "At first, we thought we were being attacked by pirates. There was no warning at all and they started shooting. Everyone was scared and just hiding, hoping to stay alive."
The vessel had 12 bullet holes, said Mr Lin, who added: "It was so chaotic. Even when I tried to establish communications with the other side, I didn't understand what they were saying."
He said he will unload his catch and replenish supplies before leaving for the Indian Ocean next Thursday to fish.
Lien I Hsing No. 116 was fired at four or five times but did not appear to have been hit. Its captain, Mr Chen Fu-li, declined to comment.